In December of 2011, Patrick Greene threatened a law-suit against his hometown of Athens, Texas over the presence of a nativity scene. Greene was a self-proclaimed atheist activist and was glad to lead the charge against such a public Christian symbol.
Greene’s antagonism against the Christian faith is not an anomaly. We see it all the time, and not just at Christmas. It’s played out in the public arena when it comes to things such as the Christian view of marriage as being a sacred covenant between one man and one woman; the sanctity of life in the womb; the exclusivity of salvation as being only through Christ. I suppose the list of Christian values that spike public aggression could be long.
But in this age of protests, riots, lawsuits, and public shaming, what is a bit of an anomaly was how the Christian community in Athens, Texas, responded to Patrick Greene’s ill-will toward the Christian faith. Rather than drawing lines between them and Greene in the form of reciprocal legal action or name-calling, they responded with their faith. They learned that Greene was suffering from a serious eye condition that could lead to blindness. As a result he was forced to retire early, making it difficult for him and his wife to put food on the table and make ends meet. In response, the Christian community raise enough money to meet their needs (The 9 Arts?).
Needless to say, Greene was not anticipating that response from those he sought to pick a fight with. But that was exactly what was needed to open the door for God to do His work. Only two months after Greene threatened a legal war over a nativity scene, he ended up giving his own life to Christ. Because of the love shown to him by Christians he went from atheist to believer.
The following is an excerpt from the Christian Post:
“There’s been one lingering thought in the back of my head my entire life, and its one thought that I’ve never been able to reconcile, and that is the vast difference between all the animals and us,” [Green said] as he began to explain his recent transformation from atheist to Christian. The theory of evolution didn’t answer his questions, he says, so he just set those questions aside and didn’t think about them anymore.
But when Christians in a town that had reason to be angry with him showed him a gesture of love, he began to reconsider his beliefs altogether. He eventually began to realize that evolution would never have the answer to his questions, he says, and it was at that time he began to believe in God.
When Jesus said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” I think He probably meant it. And I kind of think that is an example of what He probably had in mind. In our thoughts, our attitudes, and our actions—may it be so for me and may it be so for you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may I not be so zealous to protect my reputation as I am yours; to advance my agenda in society as I am to advance your agenda in the hearts of men.